The region’s best have all to drive for this weekend when the inaugural Suzuki Challenge Series concludes on what is being dubbed “Super Saturday” at Bushy Park, St Philip.
There are 75 points on offer from the final three races with a difference of a mere 37 points between leader Ryan Peyrau of Trinidad & Tobago (Team Suzuki) and fifth-placed Ryan Wood (Team Digicel). Sandwiched between these two and in wih a shot at glory are Jason Parkinson, Jamaica’s David Summerbell Jr. and Mark Thompson, in this first season of the innovative one-make championship.
Summer Series champion Summerbell Jr. (Team Simpson Finance) claimed his first pole position on the Saturday of Radical International, then picked up two race wins and a seventh place to lead the points after round one from Peyrau. There were only six points in it, however, Peyrau claiming two second places and a fourth.
The former triple T&T karting champion turned the tables the following day, however, with an exact repeat of Summerbell’s qualifying and race results to move into the series lead. With a best result of only fourth, in his lowest-scoring race weekend so far, Summerbell Jr. slipped to third in the standings.
Parkinson (Team Infra Rentals) edged ahead of the Jamaican into second place with a series of determined drives, finishing third four times in six races, fourth and fifth in the others. If there is a candidate to join the six-strong list of Swift Cup winners, it is surely Parkinson, whose return to racing after a lengthy lay-off has been impressive.
Just one point separates Thompson (Team Rock Hard Cement) and Wood, the other race-winners at Radical International, in fourth and fifth places. Thompson’s victory was his first since September and the highlight of a significant return to form, which also netted him a new Swift Cup lap record, while Wood’s victory and second place in the last two races last month have served to keep him in the hunt for glory.
Along with settling the Winter Cup, Saturday’s three races will also decide the overall Suzuki Challenge Series Champion, with the Swift Cup contenders dropping their lowest score from the nine rounds run. Mathematically, only a quartet of drivers can win the overall title, and for fourth-placed Mark Thompson to do so would require a huge amount of bad luck for the other three.
It is very close at the top, however. With a zero score to drop having missed last March’s opening round, Summerbell Jr. sits just one point ahead of Peyrau, with Daryl Clarke (Team Digicel) another 20 points adrift. If Clarke can find the same form which brought him two race wins and a second place in the Summer Series finale last October, then perhaps he could just pull it off.
There are no dropped scores in the SR3 Cup, so everything is more clear-cut. Summer Series champion Sean Maloney won three of the six Winter Cup races at Radical International, finished in the top three of the others and set a new outright lap record. Despite such a strong performance, however, he leads the standings by only 13 points from Guyanese teenager Calvin Ming, who made a very impressive SR3 Cup debut, with two wins, two seconds and two fourths keeping him in touch.
Mark Maloney was the best of the rest over that weekend, finishing lower than fourth only once to lie third and 26 points behind Ming, with Suleman Esuf, Stuart Maloney and David Simpson completing the top six. Embarking on his first circuit-racing season, Esuf was another to enjoy an impressive debut, claiming pole position and a new qualifying record on Saturday (although he lost the record to Ming on Sunday morning) and winning his first-ever SR3 Cup race. Once again, the regulars look set to be joined by British drivers Brian Cadwell and Jack Manchester.
Spectator viewing on Saturday is from the open-air suites accessed via the Pit Gate. Races will start from the Southern Grid, in front the pit lane, which promoted close-fought action during last month’s Radical International.
Swift Winter Cup – points after round 2: 1st Ryan Peyrau – T&T 104 points; 2nd Jason Parkinson 82pts; 3rd David Summerbell Jnr – JAM 80pts; 4th Mark Thompson 68pts; 5th Ryan Wood 67pts; 6th Daryl Clarke 50pts; 7th Josh Read 43pts; 8th Kurt Thompson 32pts; 9th Kenrick Husbands 29pts; 10th Paul Bourne 25pts; 11th Samantha Summerbell – JAM 16pts; 12th Freddie Gale 10pts
SR3 Winter Cup – points after round 2: 1st Sean Maloney 123 points; 2nd Calvin Ming – GUY 110pts; 3rd Mark Maloney 84pts; 4th Suleman Esuf 63pts; 5th Stuart Maloney 61pts; 6th David Simpson 53pts; 7th Brian Caudwell – ENG 30pts; 8th David Coelho – T&T 27pts; 9th Jim Parr – USA 26pts; 10th David Frankland – ENG 25pts; 11th Bill Henderson – ENG 19pts; 12th Jack Manchester – ENG 2pts